Britain reaffirmed on Wednesday that it will ensure and protect the right to the Falkland Islanders and Gibraltarians to determine their political futures. The strong message was included in HM Queen Elizabeth traditional annual address to Parliament setting out the legislative program for the government of PM David Cameron.
“My government will ensure the security, good governance and development of the Overseas Territories, BOT, including by protecting the Falkland Islanders’ and Gibraltarians’ right to determine their political futures”, said the Queen in her speech that opens a new session of the British Parliament.
The Falklands, which in March held a referendum with overwhelming support to remain a BOT continues to face growing pressure, including attempts to strangle the Islands economy from the Argentine government which claims sovereignty. In Gibraltar Spain is repeatedly challenging sovereignty over the Rock’s waters.
During the ceremony in the House of Lords, the Queen made clear that the Government's first priority remains restoring Britain's economic health, something which cannot simply be legislated for.
In its legislative program for the year ahead, the ruling coalition also set out plans to cap bills for social care, introduce a flat-rate pension, cut the regulation burden on small businesses and extend consumer rights.
At the heart of the Government's agenda, a new Immigration Bill was unveiled to regulate migrant access to the NHS as well as introduce stiffer fines on businesses which exploit illegal labour.
Foreign criminals and illegal immigrants also face a crackdown with a new bill making it easier to deport them - including powers to prevent the abuse of human rights laws.
The Queen told MPs and peers that the bill will aim to ensure that this country attracts people who will contribute and deter those who will not.
“In assuming the Presidency of the G8, my government will promote economic growth, support free trade, tackle tax evasion and encourage greater transparency and accountability while continuing to make progress in tackling climate change”, she added.
The Queen's Speech, which featured 20 bills, including some in draft form or carried over from the previous session, was also notable for what was omitted - such as the so-called snoopers' charter to monitor internet and social media use, opposed by the Liberal Democrats, and any further moves on an EU referendum
In an introduction to their legislative agenda, Prime David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Queen's Speech was all about backing people who work hard and want to get on in life.
They said: In May 2010, we came together to govern in the national interest. We knew the road ahead would be tough and so it has proved to be. But three years on, our resolve to turn our country around has never been stronger. We know that Britain can be great again because we've got the people to do it. Today's Queen's Speech shows that we will back them every step of the way.
It was the first time in 17 years that the Prince of Wales attended the State Opening of Parliament, in a move indicating his growing role supporting the Queen in her official duties. Charles has previously accompanied the Queen to the occasion at the Palace of Westminster 11 times, but not since 1996.
His appearance, together with the Duchess of Cornwall, comes after it was announced that the Queen will miss the Commonwealth summit later this year for the first time in 40 years as part of a review of her long-haul travel.